Agrarian Socialism: The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan : a Study in Political Sociology

Agrarian Socialism: The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan : a Study in Political Sociology

Agrarian Socialism: The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan : a Study in Political Sociology

Agrarian Socialism: The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan : a Study in Political Sociology

Excerpt

To return intellectually to a book one wrote two decades ago is a peculiar experience. On one hand, the fact that some people think well enough of the book to be interested in publishing a new paperback edition is flattering. On th e other hand, in rereading the book, I feel chagrined about parts of it that strike me as weak, and that I would do differently if I were beginning the research with my present knowledge.

Agrarian Socialism is a reworking of my doctoral thesis in sociology at Columbia University. My reasons for selecting the topic at the time were at least as much political as scholarly. As a young socialist, I was interested in learning why an avowedly socialist party, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, was winning elections in Canada, when comparable efforts had brought no such success in the United States. At the time, the CCF had won a majority in Saskatchewan, was the second largest party and the official opposition in Ontario and British Columbia, and had considerable strength in Manitoba.

From my then limited knowledge of Canada, it seemed that many of the social conditions that various commentators had cited to explain "why there is no socialism in the United States" were also present in Canada. Yet, there was socialism in Canada. The conditions precluding it most often mentioned for the United States included the effects of an open land frontier and the absence of a feudal past, with a characteristic high rate of social mobility (supposedly endemic in an expanding frontier society) and a low level of status differentiation, compared to European nations. Two other factors suggested to explain the absence of socialism, which seem to be present both in Canada and the United States, are a high per . . .

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